Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Doctrine of Scripture, An Overview: Clarity, Authority, Inerrancy & Infallibility of Scripture


    In the last post I introduced what I hope will be a series of posts on "The Doctrine of Scripture" here

    In my former post, I ended with six qualities of the Bible as Divine Revelation that provide headings that trace out for us an overview of the Doctrine of Scripture - otherwise known as "Bibliology". 

1. Clarity of God’s words – their

2. Authority of God’s words – that’s

3. Inerrancy and infallibility of God’s words –
    their information.

4. Necessity of God’s words – the foundation.

5. Sufficiency of God’s words – life

6. The writing down of God’s words – that’s

    In today's post, we will explore the first three of these.

1. Clarity of God’s words – their communication. Genesis 1:26-27

    For this point, let’s turn back to Genesis 1:26-27 

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” 

    Human beings were designed to communicate with one another and with their Maker. The term “image” speaks of “capability” in the human species to give and receive whatever thoughts are in their minds. That term “likeness” refers to the “ability” of human beings to communicate within themselves.

    Wherever God is speaking forth His revelation, He always intends clarity. The clarity of Scripture speaks to its ability to provide meaning, because in each verse there is one ultimate meaning. Psalm 119:105 tells us “thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (KJV). Or again, 2 Peter 1:19 “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (NASB). So, already we understand this first quality of God’s Word pertains to its communication or “clarity”. Now notice a second quality.

2. Authority of God’s words – that’s revelation. Genesis 2:23-25

    The first three chapters center upon God as the talking, living God. We already considered Jesus’ citation of Genesis 2:23-25, attributing it as being God’s words. So, let’s look Genesis 2:23-25 

"The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.' 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” 

    So, who is expressing these words? The Genesis text tells us that “Adam said”. Now, take how Jesus quotes this same text in Matthew 19:4-5 

"And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?" 

    Whom does Jesus credit saying these same words? God. So, which is it? Was it Adam who spoke? Was it God who spoke? Is it God’s words conveyed through Adam’s words? B.B. Warfield helps us answer this from wrote a wonderful essay entitled “It says:” “Scripture says:” Warfield explains, 

“In one of these classes of passages the Scriptures are spoken of as if they were God; in the other, God is spoken of as if He were the Scriptures: in the two together, God and the Scriptures are brought into such a conjunction that….no distinction was made between them” (regarding authority). (B.B. Warfield, Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, page 299),

    In other words, what we see here is a demonstration of this Biblical quality of “authority”. Wayne Grudem in pages 32-34 of His Systematic Theology, 2nd edition (pages 47-51 in the 1st edition) describes God’s activity in these opening chapters through what he calls “The Word of God as speech by God”. God’s activity is nothing less than Him acting and speaking forth His authority as God.

    Why are these words so authoritative? God is exercising His most fundamental act of communication in the opening chapters – revelation. Revelation is when God makes known what was otherwise unknown. Once God has revealed His words – those words bear the stamp of His authority. To put it another way, the words of God act in such a way as if God Himself was there in front of us. The Author of those words conveys His authority through such words – hence why we call the Bible “The Word of God”. So, we’ve noticed Scripture’s clarity in its communication, as well as its authority in its revelation. Now let’s note a third trait….

3. Inerrancy and infallibility of God’s words – their information. Genesis 3:1

    As we turn again to these opening chapters of Genesis, we come to that tragic scene in Genesis 3:1 which records the first ever question in the Bible, as well as the basis for the title of this message, 

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 

    What was Satan questioning? The truthfulness and trustworthiness of the words of God spoken to Adam (and which in turn were supposed to had been taught accurately by Adam to his wife). When we say “truthfulness”, we speak of what theologians call “inerrancy” of God’s words. When we talk of “trustworthiness”, we refer to what theologians call the “infallibility of God’s words”. Now I won’t go any further into detail about these two terms, since future posts are devoted to them. What I will say next relates to the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s words by considering a fourth quality in our next post – the necessity of God’s words as the foundation.

More later....